Norwegian Dream renamed Norwegian Hell by stranded cruise passengers in the port of Montevideo said they would be demanding Norwegian Cruise Lines because of the bad service and treatment they received during and after a minor collision suffered by the vessel when she was leaving for the South Atlantic.
An estimated 250 out of a total 1.700 passengers from the Norwegian Dream protested on Wednesday next to the gangways while local welders repaired the bow of the vessel damaged when on Monday she was struck by a barge transporting containers and vehicles some of which fell overboard into the channel forcing the closure of the port of Montevideo. In spite of two days of surveying and rescue efforts ten brand new pickups and several containers remain unaccounted for possibly pushed by strong winds, choppy seas or simply sunken in the deep mud of the River Plate. Passengers aboard complained that the 14-day around-the-horn South America cruise will miss at least three ports: the Falklands' Port Stanley and Argentina's Puerto Madryn and Ushuaia, since the vessel will sail directly to Punta Arenas, Chile to try and recover time lost because of the accident and subsequent repairs. As compensation, the line offered guests a 50% refund of the cruise fare paid. This is in addition to a 150 US dollars per-person onboard credit (maximum of 300 per stateroom). Guests who choose to book a future cruise while onboard will receive a 15% certificate of credit based on the fare paid for the current voyage. Apparently passengers were also given the option to disembark the vessel and receive the 50% refund and onboard credit. Another complaint was that while stranded in Montevideo excursions were organized but passengers had to pick up the bill. Free phone calls to the family were limited to three minutes but not from the cabins forcing long queues. But what allegedly made passengers feel most furious and frustrated was the fact Captain Nenad Mogic "never reported on the situation" and the overall crew's attitude towards the stranded guests who contracted the cruise to enjoy holidays and have an easy going time. On Wednesday afternoon a group of passengers signed a letter drafted by vacationing attorneys aboard and addressed to Norwegian Lines demanding compensation for the lost time and money including several specific points, mainly that the cruise arrives in Valaparaiso by December 23 as scheduled; a voucher for each passenger equivalent to a 14 days cruise valid for five years; 300 US dollars on board credit and a return ticket to home from the departing port. From the Falklands, agents Sulivan Shipping Services announced Norwegian Dream would not be calling in Stanley and will pick up its itinerary at the most appropriate point. The Norwegian Dream is due to visit the Falklands on New Year's Day. This situation is not new in the cruise industry. In January 2006 Queen Mary 2 passengers protested and were fully reimbursed after several calls in the Caribbean were eliminated to recover time lost following a delay for repairs. The 2.500 passengers spent six days at sea, loosing booked excursions and hotels. Cunard offered 50% compensation but passengers revolted and the company accepted to pay full reimbursement and the air ticket to the departing point. In 1999 the Norwegian Dream suffered a more serious collision with a Panamanian flagged container vessel in the English Channel which left twenty passengers injured. Furthermore a fire broke out in the other vessel and an inquiry into the accident concluded that the cruise' officer on duty was responsible. Finally the Norwegian Dreamleft yesterday from Montevideo at 7pm to the South Atlantic. (Source: El Pais/MP)